If you’ve been paying even half a bit of attention in the SF/F writing world you know about the conflicts that regularly occur throughout the fandom. *Acchhsadpuppieschoooooo* Bless me. There’s plenty of other people talking about it, so you don’t need me to say much.
Here in Kentucky there’s been a recent case of a family who had 10 children removed from their “homestead” and put in state care. (These points are related, I promise.) There are lots of pictures of this homestead online, which boils down to a 250 square foot ramshackle shack covered in tarps with no electricity, running water or toilets. There’s a lot of people online (likely the same people who throw a fit when CPS fails to remove a child who has been physically abused before the ultimate tragedy strikes) going mad over CPS’s interference.
There are days I feel like I’m part of the homesteading community. I don’t have much space, half an acre in the middle of a city block where I garden, try to recycle, reuse and dream of doing more. I don’t know everything going on in this situation. But homesteading, IMHO should NEVER mean ignoring basic sanitation, medical care (the children don’t have birth certificates, social security numbers and don’t get medical care, even when injured according to the charges), food safety and education (the mom boasts that she “uneducates them” or only teaches them when the opportunity arises). Homesteaders take the responsibility for food safety, building safe homes/barns/etc and proper water sanitation on themselves in addition to normal household responsibilities like paying bills. That’s the point of homesteading, to become independent, self sufficient, but still completely safe from real, dangerous things that DO still exist in our world like dysentery and botulism.
This family doesn’t appear to be good example of homesteaders, instead they seem to be hiding dangerous behaviors behind a community that shies from what people consider the norm.
So this is my point, as a member of both of these communities, what responsibility do I have to stand up and say, “Hey, no, these people do NOT represent me or the ideas that brought me to this community.”
This is something I have struggled with a lot, all through my life. In religion, in multiple religions actually, in my circle of high school friends, in the writing community, the autism activism community…I could go on and on. There are a whole lot of people out there who circle the wagons and protect, without consideration. That kind of support can certainly be nice. But can it be dangerous?
I think the Sad Puppies bit shows it really really can. We, as communities don’t have to protect deplorable or dangerous behavior. You don’t have to support a family member by allowing them to steal from you, become violent against you or damage your property.
Personally I draw the line where the well being of a person is at stake, especially when that person cannot defend themselves (which covers people with physical or mental disabilities, people suffering from conditioning that doesn’t allow them to fight back, children, the unconscious, and animals.)
We all have biases and preferences that we cannot avoid instilling in our kids. Mini definitely has my passion for storytelling. Mister has my love of computer puzzle games. I know people who believe the government can’t be trusted and non-organic foods cause cancer. Me disagreeing with them is surface because they also don’t put the well being of their kids at risk. When they home school they have lesson plans and grades and actively seek to be part of social communities so that their kids aren’t isolated. They grow their own food and buy organic only, but don’t come in my house and destroy my kids’ food for not being the same way.
I think it’s vital that we not be afraid to NOT support people or certain behavior. We live in a fabulous world with amazing constantly evolving options. Want to read Orson Scott Card but not fund his anti-gay life? Second hand books and libraries, baby! Want to practice Christianity by not have any part of the repressive hatefests in cultures like Westboro? Then don’t join a church like that. Heck, you don’t even have to join a church!
We aren’t obligated to protect the vultures among us. The opposite, in fact, we are obligated to protect the community itself from harm from their behavior. Do we have to be “social justice warriors”, constantly crusading against any little ill? Of course not. We only have so many spoons and we are allowed to save some for ourselves.
Personally I am in a position of near burn out in a lot of communities, including writing. I just cannot spend time raging online and trying to dominate comment sections trying to make people think I’m right. I’ve spent too much time doing that and not enough actually writing. Which is also why I’m not battling out in homesteading communities either. I have gardens to weed and things to can.
I guess, just…sometimes silence isn’t condoning either, it’s not having enough spoons to fight all the fights.